Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 283 and Presencing

Nick Couldry uses the term ‘presencing’ in his book Media, Society, World to talk about how we go into digital or media spaces to manage our presence over time. It’s a way we cultivate a sense of wider purpose through a public presence. And because of the way suffering and trauma marginalize people, this act of making yourself more visible is even more important.

I was browsing Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter Culture Study when the above quote hit me over the head. The interview was on the topic of ambiguous grief with a media studies professor Samira Rajabi. While the writing is almost uncomfortably academic it resonated with me immediately. I have been engaging in presenceing for the entire course of my illness. I just never had a name for why I felt like a public presence mattered to me.

While it sounds unbelievable, I never considered that I might be using social media as a way to give myself visibility in the face of the trauma of an extended and chronic illness. I’ve always been a heavy user of social media so I didn’t find it unusual that I spent significantly more time on Twitter and blogging as I went through the diagnosis and recovery process.

I had been used to being visible in my previous life. I was regularly in media for my startups and I had cultivated some amount of public presence on and off since I was in college. But I didn’t really become a Twitter personality that cultivated a presence and interactions and a voice until I got sick. Without knowing it was presencing myself.

In American culture in particular, there is a strong preference for triumphant stories. So we can conceive of suffering if it can be managed and overcome, but rarely do we know what to do with a story of chronic pain and suffering and how relentlessly it reminds a person that they no longer fit into the so-called “normal” world. To me, it becomes even more important for those people to be seen.

I really wanted my story to fit into a narrative when I first got diagnosed. I had all kinds of ambitions of overcoming and healing that were quickly dashed on the reality of my life. I was never going to be normal again. And I hated that. I still find myself overcome with grief at the prospect that there is no triumphant return.

But I want people to see that grief. And see that it’s alright. That life went on. I didn’t lose myself. Even in pain and illness, or perhaps because of it, I’ve gained ground in finding myself. The pain and degradation of illness is ugly and shitty but also powerfully transformative.

I have not given up just because the narrative isn’t clear and the story has no simple arc. Any impression we have that stories have structure is imposed in hindsight. We love our post-hoc rationalization. We love our pattern recognition. But the through line is never clear in the moment. And that’s why presence matters. We all need the visibility of the truth even if it doesn’t fit neatly into the story our culture has given us.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 282 and Stop & Go

I wasn’t born until after stagflation so I can’t tell you what America or Britain felt like in the 70’s but the chattering classes seem to enjoy bringing up the comparison. But there does seem to be a bit of “stop & go” energy in the air. Everyone is raring to go but the energy cannot quite flow freely as we smack into obstacle after obstacle. Demand is pent up but the reality of supply is uglier.

Obviously this perspective of excitement and demand is colored by working in startups where the bias is always towards the excitement of building new things. Crypto is burning with the fire of millions of zealots, all of whom are confident we are building the infrastructure for a better future. Everyone feels like it’s worth investing and higher prices are a good sign. There is more go than stop here.

Of course, I am one of those zealots. I’ve got the optimism of someone who saw how fast previous waves of web1 and web2 changed my entire world. Wealth and creativity was unleashed twice over for the elder millennials who were lucky enough to witness the dot com boom as children and the social media era as their first jobs.

There were massive crashes and financial implosions too. Stop more than go. More of us got hurt than got wealthy. But we saw the possibility even as failure engulfed most of us. So we believe we might be the lucky ones this time. That we might be the ones to win the game. “Red light, green light” seems fun if you can make up ground when everyone is running. Just don’t get hurt too bad.

I feel this energy in my own body. I am excited to push into everything. My portfolio companies are all riding high. There is no way I can do it all in any given day. So when the go energy pushes me sometimes I find myself leaning into stop and simply taking a nap in the middle of the day. It makes me a little jittery to feel the push-me-pull-me of demand grind up against the limited supply of energy and focus. I’d like to feel fully unleashed but I know somehow there are moments where it’s best to stop before I go.

Categories
Media

Day 281 and Villains

This is a post that will have spoilers about the end of the second season of Ted Lasso. Do not read any further if you have not seen it. I’ll put an extra paragraph to keep it from your eyes and we can meet again tomorrow.

SPOILERS BELOW

The first season of Ted Lasso may be one of the most perfect seasons of television ever made. It’s like being inside the best session of therapy you’ve ever had. The kind where you have a breakthrough so profound that the hurt and agony of your worst childhood trauma suddenly feels not only bearable but also the reason to fully love yourself. It’s just that good on the emotional truth scale. The warmth and safety and growth is beautiful.

But season two leans into tropes and villainy where it used to rely on nuance and kindness. Rather than feeling the pride and hope of emotional truth that has been hard gotten (the truth will set you free but first it will piss you off), we are given the obvious end of Nate betraying Ted and Rebecca by going to coach for Rupert’s new team West Ham.

Nate makes a massive accusation that Ted abandoned Nate emotionally but we are given roughly thirty seconds to wrack our brains for these betrayals before it is revealed that Nate has chosen to abandon Ted. How do we feel about this? Wouldn’t we normally explore how both people contributed to the feeling? But nope it’s send Nate right into insecure narcissistic reactivity rather than mine for the potential nuance.

We could have been given a story where we see Nate and Ted equally participating in the traumas they each carry and how it affects their relationship. Ted with his fear of abandonment brought on by his father’s suicide very well may play out that pattern of abandonment on Nate. But that’s left largely unexplored. Perhaps it could have shown us how Nate intuitively sees that because of Ted’s unresolved pain with his father, Ted in fact isn’t fully there for Nate in his new role as a surrogate father figure coach.

The struggles of a young man coping with a new position and unexpected authority granted by father figure like Ted juxtaposed against Nate’s own issue with his father who doesn’t show him respect would have been an empathetic story in the hands of this show.

There was so much fertile ground for how each character could trigger emotions in the other and for how they could own and resolve these feelings. But instead it’s straight to villain don’t pass to don’t collect 200 dollars. By the end I wasn’t even sad about the loss. I’d resigned myself to the conclusion. But they could have done so much better by everyone. Even if Nate must experience his darker impulses we would have been wiling to see the full journey of how he arrived there and the pain other’s traumas has inadvertently wrecked on Nate.

I guess I’m not sad. I’m just disappointed. And that’s how you know it really mattered to me.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 280 and Scooping

I first started blogging in college because a friend of mine pointed out that I needed to own my digital identity. I had written something about designer jeans in the lesser school newspaper and another student was dunking on me in her personal blog.

Unless I acted swiftly, Google results would be tainted forever he assured me. So I started blogging. Not because I necessarily felt like I was meant to be a writer but because I didn’t want this other girl to scoop my life story. I didn’t want to get “Bad Art Friended” by letting someone else tell my story.

I’m pretty grateful to both my friend James and the “mean girl” Phoebe for launching my social media habits. Every big break I’ve ever had has come from the connections I made on the Internet. If I hadn’t been petty enough to want to own my own digital identity I might have missed out.

Rather like the “Bad Art Friend” piece where one writer uses details from another’s life for her art, whoever is able to own the narrative is the default winner. It’s not terribly fair but it could have been someone else telling my story had I not chosen to write. If the victors write history then there is an incentive to be the one whose narrative wins. And the only way to win in our social media saturated works is to be sure you’ve got the scoop on your own life.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 279 and Takeout

I’m not entirely sure when or even how it happened, but I’ve been eating nothing but takeout. I think it’s some “emotional exhalation” around food. When the pandemic first hit I was in Manhattan. As wasn’t yet clear how Covid spread, we locked down in our apartment and cooked every single meal for three straight months. Probably a record in my life for going without ready made meals. But boy did I miss takeout by the end of it.

I’m sure both facts say something about the privilege I have. I can afford to have someone prepare all of my food in restaurants. And when disaster struck I had the time and ability to stay home and cook. Most folks chose their food based on budgets, literal and time.

As I’ve been concerned about the looming supply chain crunch I now think it might be time to flex the cooking at home muscles again. Letting fresh food linger in the fridge without a plan is wasteful. Whether or not I can afford the waste isn’t the point. It’s offensive to the energy and work of the many people who put their livelihood into feeding others.

I feel this especially acutely as my milk and produce come directly from local farmers. I feel like I’m letting down Daphne if our milk isn’t turned into yogurt or ricotta (or at very least put into my morning coffee). Although I will say I have no good plans for the sheer volume of peppers and chilis my farm share produced. In Colorado it is the chili that’s the crop that goes overboard in your CSA box not zucchini or some other squash. I genuinely have no clue what to do with some of more exotic peppers so send me recipes!

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 278 and Overshooting

I have been feeling terrific. That means I’ve been able to do a lot more. But it’s also one of my tendencies to overshoot my capacity. Workaholism, like any addiction, is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. Being in recovery for it means recognizing I could relapse.

I feel a bit of that overextended twitchy feeling at the moment. That jittery adrenaline fueled vibe that proceeds a crash isn’t something I’ve allowed myself to feel for several years as frankly I was worried I’d go on a bender. A bender for me is perceived as societally approved. Look at that work ethic!

So this is me recognizing that I feel like I could go over the edge and I’m not going to do it. The temptation I had to find something to prolong the adrenaline of my winning work streak is heavy. I have a number of topics I’d like to write about today. I’ve got to do lists with tempting targets. But I’m not going to overshoot. I’ve written my paragraphs. I’ll tag it. I’ll send it out into social media and then I’m going to watch some trashy tv. Hold

Categories
Preparedness

Day 277 and Supplies

I’ve been watching the supply chain cascade issues for several weeks. Ports are backed up across America, the cost of a shipping container from China has gone on average from $4000 to $19,000, and there is a national shortage of truckers to get goods moved even if they reach American shores. If you are interested in the topic and the possible impacts, my favorite site for preparedness The Prepared has a synopsis without the panic or bullshit.

I reached out to my mom suggesting to her if she had any major purchases or repairs to do so now. She’s been intending to get the shocks replaced on her husband’s truck and moved up the appointment to get it scheduled today. I went through my various preparations for emergencies and realized I was in very good shape. Maybe I could upgrade a pair of boots or consider a new winter parka to upgrade from Uniqlo to LL Bean.

But there just wasn’t much I needed to do. If we had food, fuel, or medication shortages or delays like Britain is experiencing, I am prepared for that. I’m not in a place where I can sustain a full civilization collapse (I haven’t convinced my husband to move to a homestead yet), but I’d definitely be fine if we had a month or two of cascade issues. I am thinking of scenarios like a big winter storm knocking out the power grid and impacting downstream systems like water treatment. Or I-70 gets blocked for a week or two and we have shortages at stores because truckers cannot get over the pass. I mention those two because both happened this year calendar year. These issues are it as rare as you think.

And it struck me how incredibly lucky I am that I can consider something like a supply chain crunch and rather than struggle to afford things like a car repair or a winter coat I can simply buy them. The privilege I have to be a prepper (or a doomer) is significant. And I really genuinely don’t think that should be the case.

America makes big claims to exceptionalism but we regularly have disasters that make us look like we’ve barely achieved a stable economy with functional infrastructure. So if you can prepare for a disaster please do so. The life you save may be your own. But in reality it’s probably more likely to be your neighbors. And we owe it to each other to take the strain off the system so when a disaster hits so we can do better together.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 276 and Magical Thinking

I like to watch television to let my mind take a break. Because I spend so much of my time intaking and integrating new information for a living, I find it relaxing to have someone do that work for me. Plus I wasn’t allowed to watch TV as a kid so rebellion.

I’ve been getting served up a lot of tv shows about magic. Earlier in the year WandaVision was all about chaos magic. Then we had Loki. The algorithms then sent me to a Norwegian show about the Ragnarok. And now all I seen to find on Netflix has some kind of magic plot line. A secretly Ivy League university for magic? Check out the Magicians. Prefer Victorian era? I started with on The Irregulars. But only because I just finished Witcher as I thought I’d tried some medieval fantasy. Basically any setting you might like now has a show about magic. Outlander, Supernatural, The Order, The Umbrella Academy, Shadow and Bone are all popular right now and available to binge on Netflix.

I’m beginning to think that Harry Potter might have rotted too many brains in the millennial generation as now everyone needs stories about how they are secretly on the edges of society because of powers only a select few can ever wield. If reality is so disappointing then we need to have some other layer of existence revealed where we can thrive.

I remember being depressed when I was in 3rd grade when my mother explained to me that it was unlikely I’d ever be able to work on The Enterprise. The one TV show my parents approved of was Star Trek because I guess they wanted me to be into utopian science driven worlds. But once it was explained that this was so far in the future it’s not likely that I could be a science officer on a space ship I was sad.

Now granted I got over it and did the next best thing to living in a science fiction utopian and went to work in startups. I still feel like I get to help the future come about. But what about all these kids being raised on magic? There is no easy career alternative for the dismal prospect that you cannot manipulate physical reality with a wand or saying a spell in some elder god language.

Or maybe kids will figure out you can manifest stuff into reality. I guess the meme mobs have done weirder things like turn a washed up tv star into the president. Maybe chaos magic is real for someone. Or are least chaos is real.

Categories
Finance Startups

Day 275 and Manifesting

I had a really terrific September. Everything just started going my way. Projects that I’d been pushing on had significant breakthroughs. My deals got hot. My focus and health improved. Even when I had setbacks and failures I was able to execute on quick recoveries. But mostly I didn’t give in to past bad habits. And all of that happened without any additional effort on my part.

I’ve been making a really conscious effort to stop pushing myself to always be doing more. Either I am able to find elegant solutions or I ask myself to take a step back till I can. Rather than brute forcing everything I am finding ways get where I am going without sacrificing myself to costly bad trades on my time and energy.

I asked for something really significant from one of my investments (an additional allocation for an special purpose vehicle). The second I asked for it I started to panic. I didn’t have an immediate or simple path to deliver on what I asked for from this founder. Even though I was confident I had the money for the deal it out I panicked that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. Immediately it started going through my head about how bad I’d feel if failed this founder. I relived the guilt, shame and punishment I had felt in previous failures to deliver for people that trusted me. I hated feeling like I’d failed people.

And I just decided stopped the cycle of worry then. Like turning off a switch. I told myself I could do it, I knew I could do it or I wouldn’t have asked, and that there was simply no way I was going to let down this founder. But this is where I felt the frown Instead of going into overdrive, I stuck by my schedule. I didn’t change anything. I didn’t push myself to a frenzy by adding in calls, pitches & emails. I just put down all the steps I could and would take to make the deal available to the right people and I began.

In the past I would have let that fear drive me. I would have gone into overwork and adding in additional tactics that I didn’t even need to insure I would reach my goal. But here I trusted myself to get the outcome. I didn’t exhaust myself. I took care of myself. And the allocation got filled quickly. I checked the commitments this morning and I’ve only got 15% of the deal left.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 274 and Amends

If you have ever had an addict in your life you may be familiar with 12 step work. You probably know that the first step is admitting you have a problem. As anyone in recovery can tell you, the steps don’t get any easier.

I have attended Al-Anon and ACA because I’ve had addicts affect my life and I come from a family that has suffered from the dysfunction. I’ve worked the program. It’s benefited me enormously and I recommend it anyone who has experienced the harms of addictions. Because of this experience working the program when I see others in recovery I try to remind myself that working the steps is for them. I don’t owe them anything. But I do believe in grace, forgiveness and redemption is possible.

I had a formerly very close friend reach out to me to work the 9th step recently. They wanted to make amends.

Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

The 9th step is arguably the most powerful culturally to emerge from 12 step programs. While we all know admitting you have a problem and giving yourself up to a higher power is crucial to begin your recovery, making amends is about taking responsibility for yourself. It’s a step people can rush or even avoid entirely. Amends is not about saying your sorry. Amends is about taking responsibility for what you have done so you can move forward in recovery. Only by owning your past actions with those you have harmed can you begin to forgive yourself and believe that you are worthy of sobriety. It’s not really a step about other people so much as it is showing to yourself that recovery is possible.

I was overcome with sadness when this former friend reached out to me. Their alcoholism made me feel deeply abandoned as I lost what has been a close and meaningful friendship. But I didn’t feel any anger. I didn’t particularly feel wronged. Just a deep aching sadness that my friend has been taken from me and there was nothing I could do.

There are people in my life that are in recovery that have never made amends to me. Or at least they have not formally asked to make amends as part of a program. They’ve simply slowly done the work to show me I can trust them in my life. And I’ve forgiven them. But the actual step of making amends is a meaningful one. There is a reason it’s so hard to do right.

I don’t know what the future holds for my former friend and I. The fantasy I have is that they remain sober work to rebuild the trust and friendship we once shared. I missed them terribly. I mourned their loss like a death. But this is my fantasy not reality. Reality will he more complex.

I’m sad that even having been lucky enough to receive amends from them, it doesn’t mean all is well. Our actions have consequences. That’s why the 9th step is make amends and not apologize. Amends is fundamentally about owning what you have done. So while they can now begin the process of forgiving themselves, and knowing that in good faith they did make amends to me, my journey towards regaining trust in them is just beginning.

Which means I need to be responsible for my own feelings. How will my actions to accept contact, make amends, and forgive affect me, my family and my friends? There are other people that were harmed by their alcoholism. I don’t actually know yet. The sadness is still so strong. But I do know that I will attend an Al-Anon meeting, and I will pray, and I will work the steps too. And I pray willingness will come.